28 May 2010

Ich glaub an Gott, Vater allmächtigen

Here is my English version of a nice setting of the Apostles Creed that I found in Kirchengeseng (1580), apparently an anonymous composition. It sounds best when sung quickly; I recommend a 1/4 note bps of 108±3.


Setting © Matthew Carver, 2010.

25 May 2010

O ewiger barmherziger Gott

Here is my translation of “O ewiger barmherziger Gott” (Boh. Brethren, 1566?), itself a rhymed translation of the farced Latin Kyrie, Kyrie cunctipotens genitor. In this way it is very much like the “Kyrie Gott Vater,” that is, “Kyrie, God Father in heaven above” (LSB 942) which is a translation of the Kyrie fons bonitatis appointed as the ordinary Kyrie of the Deutsche Messe. The only, glaring difference, of course, is that the words Kyrie and Eleison appear nowhere in the text here. Note that the rhyme scheme changes on the last line of stanza 3 to form a unit with the next to last line.


O ETERNAL GOD of boundless grace,
All our thanks to Thee we raise.
For Thy goodness to us shown
In the works which Thou hast done.
:: Thou hast looked upon us in our need,
And in kindness paid us heed,
Mercy brought, redemption won,
Through Thy sole-begotten Son.
:: Therefore we, redeemed by Christ our King,
Boldly our petition bring:
May Thou make our wills as one
With the will of Thy dear Son.

2. Christ, Thou fruit of Virgin blest,
Who wast conceived both pure and chaste,
And outpoured,
That our life might be restored:
:: Thou, by suff’ring death and pain
For our trespasses, sin, and stain,
Didst alone
For the guilt of all atone.
:: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Friend,
Enthroned on high, Thy Spirit send
To this place,
With the gift of healing grace.

3. O Holy Ghost, Thou God most true,
Our need and trouble view,
Graciously our soul with heav’nly gifts imbue.
:: O come Thou flame of fire divine,
Now our hearts refine,
Of sin’s leaven purge us clean and keep us Thine.
:: Renew our failing mind and heart,
Grace and good impart,
Guide us till the very end; our soul defend,

4. For all things into Thy hands we now commend.
Praise and glory be to Thee, gracious God, eternally!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

GERMAN
1. O ewiger barmherziger Gott,
wir danken dir der Wohlthat.
die du uns erzeiget hast,
und aller Werk so du thust.
Du hast angesehn all unser Not,
als ein getiediger Gott,
uns durch deinen lieben Sohn,
Gnad und Erlösung gethan.
Sintemal er uns nun hat erlöst,
so bitten wir auch getrost,
daß du uns wolltest mit ihm
verfügen nun einen Sinn..

2. Christe benedeite Frucht,
empfangen rein in aller Zucht,
dein Leben
hast du für uns gegeben.
Du hast erlidden den Tod,
für unser Sünd und Missethat,
mit Geduld
bezahlet all unser Schuld.
Ey, nun Herre Jesu Christ,
weil du oben im Himmel bist,
send uns h’rab,
dein Geist in heilsamer Gab.

3A. O heiliger Geist, wahrer Gott,
sieh an unser Not
und erfüll uns mit dein Gaben aus Genad.
O komm, du göttliches Feuer,
Herzen verneuer,
und feg uns von allem alten Gesäuer.
3B. Erneu auch unser Gemüte
durch deine Güte.
Regier unser ganzes Leben und mach dirs eben.

4. Denn wir uns dir ganz und gar übergeben,
deinem Namen,
Herre Gott, zu ewigem Preis. Amen.

24 May 2010

Heiliger ewiger Gott

Here is my translation of the Trinity hymn “Heiliger, ewiger Gott” (Boh. Brethren, 1566). The melody is proper.


HOLY AND eternal God,
Holy Lord of Sabaoth,
Holy Trinity, to Thee,
Praise and glory ever be.

2. Father, Son, and Spirit, God,
Worthy of all praise and laud:
By all nations far and wide
Let Thy name be glorified.

3. FATHER of the Christ our Lord,
Maker, by Thy world adored,
Giver of each goodly thing,
Unto Thee all thanks we bring.

4. Thou who sent’st Thine only Son
From the high celestial throne,
To this world of grief and care,
Adam’s ruin to repair.

5. Let all nations, great and small
Own Thee and before Thee fall,
And eternal life receive
Through Thy Son whom Thou didst give.

6. CHRIST, eternal Word Thou art,
Image sprung from Father’s heart
Wisdom everlasting, Thee
God begot eternally.

7. Unbegotten Deity,
Godhead one essentially,
Yet in person, God the Son,
Agelessly begotten One.

8. Jesus Christ, Thy Christendom
Thanks Thee, who art man become
And didst ransom all mankind.
Save us sinners, poor and blind!

9. COMFORTER, Most Holy One,
From the Father and the Son,
Like in glory, grace, and good,
Let us be by Thee renewed.

10. Give us godly fear, O Lord,
That we may obey Thy Word,
Chrism us with Thy potency,
Thy communion with us be.

11. Sanctify and guide our way
That from truth we may not stray,
But in Jesus’ righteousness
Guide us to eternal bliss.

12. TRIUNE GOD, in person three,
One in essence agelessly.
Very God without divide,
Be forever glorified.

13. Hear the pray’r we raise to Thee,
O divine, true Majesty,
Since in Christ we ask, oh, then,
Let Thy answer be Amen!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

GERMAN
1. Heiliger, ewiger Gott,
heiliger Herr Zebaoth,
heilige Dreifaltigkeit,
dir sei Lob in Ewigkeit.

2. Gott Vater, Gott Sohn und Geist,
werd von uns herrlich gepreist
alle Land, Berge Thal,
werden deiner Ehren voll.

3. Vater des Herrn Jesu Christ,
der du unser Schöpfer bist,
und erhälst uns von Anfang,
dirsagen wir Lob und Dank.

4. Der du hast dein lieben Sohn,
gesandt vom himmlischen Thron,
zu uns in den Jammerthal,
aufzurichten Adams Fall.

5. O laß uns beid groß und klein,
dich und ihn kennen allein,
und das ewig Leben han,
nun uns im Geliebten an.

6. Christe du ewiges Wort,
des Vaters Bild, Gott von Art,
seine ewige Weisheit,
geboren von Ewigkeit.

7. Ungeborn ist die Gottheit,
im Wesen kein Unterscheid,
sondern nach deiner Person,
bistu sein ewiger Sohn.

8. Wir danken dir Jesu Christ,
der du ein Mensch worden bist,
hast erlöst menschlich Nautr,
hilf uns deiner Creatur.

9. Heiliger Geist, höchster Trost,
von beiden dein Ausgang hast,
gleicher Herrlichkeit und Güt,
verneu unser alt Gemüt.

10. Erweck in uns Gottes Furcht,
daß das Herz deim Wort gehorcht,
und salb uns mit deiner Kraft,
sei mit uns dein Gemeinschaft.

11. Heilig und richt uns auch an,
daß wir gehn auf rechter Bahn,
in Christi Gerechtigkeit,
erlangen die Seligkeit.

12. Gott in Person Dreifaltig,
aber im Wesen einig,
unzurtheilter wahrer Gott,
dir sei Lob, Ehr, früh und spat.

13. Erhör diß, unser Gebet
o Göttliche Majestät,
welchs wir thun in deim Namen,
sprich drauf gnädiglich Amen.

20 May 2010

Nu lob wir heut allesamt

Here is my translation of “Nu lob wir heut allesamt” (Boh. Brethren 1566?), a rhymed translation of Notker’s sequence for Ascension “Summi triumphum Regis.” There are a few differences from the original Latin verison. First, notice that the lines have been rhymed. This is typical of the Bohemian Brethren versions of Latin chants, proses, and sequences, and it is in such form that many of the Boh. Breth. settings were taken up into Lutheran hymnals. Next, notice that there are eleven phrases with matching musical parts, as opposed to ten in the original; like the Latin, however, both the first and last phrases are unique (i.e., without doubling). There is considerably less emphasis on the Jeduthun conceit, and no talk of leaping whatsoever. I did use the word leap once, however, because it rhymed well. Finally, also note that Boh. Brethren have made adjustments to the melody to flow better with the text. (Click on notation to enlarge it; it is split into two images. Click here for an audio [midi] file.)


1. Now praise we Christ our Savior,
Our High King forever.
2. Who by His great pow’r and might sustains
Heav’n and earth, and over all creation reigns.
Who Himself did offer willingly
Into death for us, in deep humility.
3. Never did we see
Or hear of such a mystery,
That God thus should leap
To join His creatures where they weep.
4. Oh, what distress, what sorrow, and what cross!
Even death He gladly bore for us!
And not for any good in us He went,
But for boundless love His life He spent.
5. Therefore did He come down from His heav’nly dwelling
To bestow on sinners grace, all gifts excelling,
Taking on our mortal, perishable nature,
That He might imperishable make His creature.
6. By death and agony
He saved us from all misery.
He triumphed o’er the foe
And let hell’s captive spirits go.
7. And when He rose again,
He came to His disciples with an order plain:
“Go into every place,
Proclaiming unto all My covenant of grace.”
8. Then He went up into heaven and was hid from their sight,
And in all glory now sits at God the Father’s right.
Where as true God He longs to hear our praises and requests,
In whom alone all might o’er heaven and earth now rests.
9. There evermore He is our high priest and throne of grace,
And intercedes for us before the Father’s face.
In like manner as ye saw Him into heaven go,
So shall He come again, our sentence to bestow.
10. Oh Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
Who art exalted high upon the heav’nly throne,
We pray Thee now to send
Thy Spirit from on High, His gracious help to lend,
11. Our guide on earth to be,
And hence to lead us up to Thy majesty.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

GERMAN (Kirchengeseng 1580):
1. Nu lob wir heut allesamt /
Christum unser Heiland.
2. Der durch seine Gwalt die ganze welt /
den Himmel samt allem regiert und erhält.
Der sich selbs für uns demütiglich, /
zum Opfer gegeben hat ganz williglich.
3. [W]er hat je erhört /
noch gesehn der gleichen Wohlthat.
Das Gott aus seim Saal, /
kommen sollt auf den Jammerthal.
4. O ganze Leid[?}, und so viel Angst und Noth, /
willig für uns leiden bis in Tod.
Es hat ihn nicht bewegt unser Frömkeit, /
sondern sein unmässig Gütigkeit.
5 Darum ist er kommen zu den Menschen Kindern, /
daß er seine Gnad mittheilt uns armen Sündern.
Und unser sterbliche Natur angenommen, /
daß wir seiner göttlichen möchten bekommen.
6. Der durch sein bittern Tod, /
uns erlöst aus der Hellen Noth.
Den Feind überwunden /
und entgangen seinen Banden.
7. Als er er erstanden war, /
erschein er sein’n Jüngern, macht sich ihn’n offenbar.
Sprach, Geht in alle Land, /
mein Wort zu verkünden und lehrt den neuen Bund.
8. Nachdem fuhr er tiglich auf gen Himmel da er jetzt /
gar herrlich erhöht zu der rechten seins vatern sitzt.
Allda will er von uns angebett werden als ein Gott, /
der im Himmel und auf Erden alle Gewalt hat.
9. Dort ist er ein Bischof und Versöhner allezeit, /
der uns allda vertritt für Gottes Herrlichkeit.
Gleicherweis wie er ist gen Himmel aufgenommen, /
also wird er wieder h’rab zu richten kommen.
10. Ey, Herre Jesu Christ, /
der du für Gottes Thron herzlich erhöhet bist.
Wir bitten dich allsamt, wollest uns von oben /
mit deim Geist begaben
11. Der uns hie regiere, /
und zu deiner Klarheit dorthin auch führe. Amen.

19 May 2010

Summi triumphum Regis

A little late for this year, but here is my translation for Notker's Ascension sequence "Summi triumphum Regis," lit., the Highest King's triumph. Herberger references the line "He leapt down from heaven" when examining the applicability of the name Jeduthun (Idithum), understood as "Leaper," to Christ. (Click to enlarge melody.)
1. The triumphal ascent of our High King we honor,
2a. Who wields the scepters of heav’n and earth, and has shattered hell’s authority.
2b. Who gave His own self, oh, dearest payment! to purchase our deliverance.
3a. Whom we also fitly and rightly call Jeduthun,
3b. For over all the hills and mountains of Bethel He leapt with great potency,
4a. He leapt down from heaven into the womb of a Virgin, thus to the sea of mortality;
4b. After He had pacified that sea by His dominion, down He leapt into the grim darkness of Phlegethon,
5a. There did He topple the prince of darkness from off his throne.
5b. With many hosts in His train, forth He came to enlighten the earth with His radiance.
6a. And there, bound tightly in shackles, came Bondage himself, foll’wing the Victor.
6b. And now to life resurrected, Christ appeared to His friends and disciples.
7a. Finally, on this day with the highest of leaps, He transcended the clouds of heav’n, His wingèd course following.
7b. Therefore this feast is celebrated by His faithful people, whose poor mortal flesh / Jeduthun, God’s very Son, carried with Him in His body to the highest celestial throne of God.
8a. Who in true fear of God await the Judge to come, as the two heav’nly angels apprised disciples:
8b. “This Jesus who was taken from you to heaven shall come in like manner as ye have seen Him going.”
9a. So let us all to our Jeduthun pray, with our fervent voice imploring,
9b. That from God’s right hand where He sits He would send us His Holy Spirit,
10. That till the end of the age He too would be with us forever.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010–11.

LATIN
1. Summi triumphum Regis prosequamur laude.
2a. Qui cæli, qui terræ regit sceptra inferni jure domito.
2b. Qui sese pro nobis redimendis per magnum dedit precium.
3a. Huic nomen extat conveni'ens Idithum.
3b. Nam transilivit omnes strenue montes colliculosque Bethel,
4a. Saltum de cælo dedit in virginalem ventrem, inde in pelagus seculi.
4b. Postquam illud suo mitigavit potentatu, tetras Phlegethontis assiliit tenebras.
5a. Principis illius disturbato imperio.
5b. Maniplis plurimis inde erutis, mundum illustrat suo jubare.
6a. Captivitatemque detentam in ibi, victor duxit secum.
6b. Et redivivum jam suis se præbuit servis et amicis.
7a. Denique saltum dederat hodie maximum, nubes polosque cursu præpeti transiens.
7b. Celebret ergo populus hunc diem credulus cujus morbida, Idithum, corpora in semetipso altis sedibus cæli invexit Dei Filius.
8a. Et tremens, judicem expectat adfuturum, ut duo angeli fratres docuerunt,
8b. Qui Jesus a vobis assumptus est in cælum, iterum veniet, ut vidistis eum.
9a. Jam Idithum nostrum vocibus sedulis omnes imploremus,
9b. Ut a dextris Patris qui sedet, Spiritum mittat nobis sanctum,
10. In fine sæculi, ipse quocque semper sit nobiscum.

13 May 2010

Mein Leben in der Eil

 Update August 25/2015. The original melody from Zahn:



Originally published 5/13/10 4:46 PM:
Here is my translation of the burial hymn “Mein Leben in der Eil” by the Silesian pastor Leonhard Kräntzheim (1532–1598), who served in Fraustadt as chief pastor while Valerius Herberger was deacon. I could not find a melody, only the incipit "c d e f d e." The meter is 66766. It is supposed to have found its way into some 17th c. Bohemian Brethren hymnals.

MY LIFE now toward the prize
Swift as an arrow flies,
And as a blossom withers
Where winds too roughly chide;
My pow’rs must soon subside.

2. From out this house of clay
I soon must wend my way
To Thee, Lord Christ, the bedrock
On which I stand and trust:
Hold firm this building must.

3. O death, thou dreadful sight,
At thee I take no fright,
For taken was thy power
By Jesus’ death, I know,
Who saves me from all woe.

4. I now depart, adieu!
Death is my gain; ’tis true,
For thus in Jesus’ bosom
And hand I’ll come to stand,
In my true fatherland.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

GERMAN
1. Mein Leben in der Eil
fleucht dahin wie ein Pfeil,
verwelkt gleichwie ein Blümlein,
das rauer Wind vertreibt,
nicht lang bei Kräften bleibt.

2. Aus diesem leimen Haus
werd ich bald ziehen aus
zu dir, Herr Christ, dem Eckstein,
darauf ich steh und trau,
das ist ein fester Bau.

3. O Tod, du greulichs Thier,
was kannst du schaden mir?
Dein Macht ist dir genommen
durch Christi Kreuz und Tod:
Hilf mir aus aller Noth.

4. Ade, ich fahr dahin,
Sterben ist mein gewinn,
denn also werd ich kommen
zu Christi Schoß und Hand
ins rechte Vaterland.

05 May 2010

Als Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn

Here is my translation of the Pentecost hymn, “Als Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn.” Ludecus (1589) includes it for the feast of Pentecost. The tune is the proper (from the Bohemian Brethren).

WHEN Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Prepared to leave this earth and sod
And take our flesh to heaven blest,
His disciples He addressed:

2. “I now must go to God’s right hand,
But go ye not from out this land
Till first from heaven pow’r divine
Shall your calling new assign.

3. His foll’wers did these words embrace,
And weekly gathered in one place
Devotedly in Christian wise
Letting rev’rent prayers rise.

4. When Easter’s fiftieth day did fall,
Which Pentecost the church doth call,
And nine days after Christ’s ascent,
Came a wondrous, blest event.

5. Upon the third hour of the day
As fervently the church did pray,
The Holy Ghost did there descend
Sounding as a mighty wind.

6. As flame He came to rest on each
And did them all such knowledge teach,
That they by grace, as by a flood,
Praised the wondrous works of God.

7. The crowd to see this wonder ran
As Christ’s disciples taught each man,
In myriad tonuges, of matters great,
And their hearts did penetrate.

8. When this they saw, then answered some,
“These men from Galilee are come!
How can they in our tongues convey
Such great things in such array?”

9. Yet others said, “These men are drunk
And speak as those in tavern sunk!”
But Peter, filled with pow’r divine,
Cried, “This is no work of wine.”

10. His sermon on Jo’l’s book he based,
With much of David’s psalter graced,
And so by God’s true pow’r did preach
That he pierced the heart of each.

11. “O dearest brethren! ponder best
How we may come to righteous rest;
For in ourselves we find but sin.
Say, Who will e’er forgive us, then?”

12. Said Peter then, “Repent and turn
Believe in Christ, God’s very Son!
And with your mouth confess Him, too;
Baptized be, and born anew.”

13. They did as Peter them advised,
Their former, evil ways despised,
In Jesus their true Lord believed,
And His Baptis'm received.

14. O Holy Spirit, grant that we
May ever act accordingly
As did Thy church in ancient time;
Praise and laud, O God, be Thine!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

GERMAN
1. Als Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn,
mit seiner leiblichen Person
von dieser Welt abscheiden wollt,
sagt er sein Jüngern sehr hold.

2. Ich geh zu Gottes Majestat,
ihr aber geht nicht aus der Stadt,
bis euch zuvor himmlische Kraft
bestätigt zur Ritterschaft.

3. Die Jünger gläubten diese Wort,
blieben versammlet an eim Ort,
einträchtig nach Christlicher Weis,
beten andächtig mit Fleiß.

4. Nach Ostern am fünfzigsten Tag,
den man den Pfingsttag nennen mag,
neun Tag nach Christi Himmelfahrt,
ward ihn groß Ding offenbart:

5. Des Morgens um die dritte Stund
weil sie beten aus Herzengrund
kam der heilig Geist in das Haus
als ein Sturmwind mit Gebraus.

6. Saß auf jeglichen unter ihn
gab ihn allen rechtschaffnen Sinn
daß sie aus sonderlicher Gnad
rühmten Gottes Wunderthat.

7. Auf diesen Sturm lief viel Volk zu,
und sie die Jünger redten nu,
mit neuen Zungen große Ding,
daß vielen zu Herzen ging.

8. Derhalben sprachen etliche,
die Männer sind von Galilee,
wie reden sie nun unser Sprach,
so große Ding ohn Gebroch?

9. Etliche sprachen, Sie sind voll
und reden wie die trunken Polt.
Petrus aber voll Gottes Kraft
gab ihn freidig Rechenschaft.

10. Nahm Wort für sich aus Johels Buch
und aus dem Psalter manchen Spruch,
redet, daß durch viel Herzen drang,
und sie so zu reden zwang.

11. O lieben Brüder ratet zu,
wie wir kommen zu rechter Ruh,
wir finden bei uns nichts den Sünd,
sagt, Wer uns davon entbindt?

12. Petrus sprach, Bessert euer Thun,
und gläubt an Christum, Gottes Sohn,
bekennt ihn auch mit eurem Mund,
laßt euch taufen auf sein Bund.

13. Sie thaten wie ihn Petrus riet,
wandten von ihrem bösen Triet,
gläubten und empfingen die Tauf,
liefen ein seligen Lauf.

14. Ei, nu verleih, heiliger Geist,
daß wir uns halten allermeist
nach deiser ersten Kirchen Weis,
dir Gott zu Lob, Ehr, und Preis. Amen.

03 May 2010

Es was einmal ein reicher Mann

Here is my translation of the hymn “Es was einmal ein reicher Mann” (Anon. ?1545), in former times ascribed variously to Nicolaus Herman or even to Luther. In his Sonntags-Evangelia [Sunday-Gospels] (1561), Herman does include what seems to be an abbreviated version of this hymn (in 20 stanzas of 4 lines each) under the I. Sunday after Trinity, where the Gospel reading is Luke 16. Ludecus (1589) appoints it for that day also. Our hymn is most well known from its inclusion in Babst (1545), and it is that melody that I give here, with a couple ties and slurs not noted, but necessary for my regularized line-length. The original variation in line-length may be a sign that the hymn comes from the Meistersänger tradition.


1. There was a rich and wealthy man
In silk arrayed by yard and span,
Whose life on earth was heaven;
Great glory was his heart’s desire
Rich clothes, his body’s soft attire—
To these his cares were given;
All beateous was that house of his,
He thought, he naught would ever miss,
And so he lived in constant bliss

2. His wife and child were plump and well
Of joy and gladness had their fill,
And knew of no affliction;
His servants likewise were content,
And each to gorge his belly bent,
In bliss without restriction;
And all the scraps, by tons and pounds,
Thy threw away to fattened hounds
And strolled their house’s pleasant grounds.

3. Meanwhile a wretched beggar lay
Before his door, and cried each day,
And Lazarus they called him.
His flesh with wounds was covered o’er,
He suffered pain and anguish sore,
And no one mercy showed him.
To mighty God he did address
His humble pray’r in his distress,
That death might be his true redress.

4. This servant of his God, nigh dead,
Sought nothing but a crust of bread,
A crumb from people passing,
They gave him neither crust nor core
The dogs all licked each fest’ring sore,
In swarms around him massing.
But hunger, thirst, and agony
Had taught this man his proper plea:
“Look down, O God, from heav’n and see!”

5. The beggar soon fell fast asleep
In blessed death, and slumb’ring deep
Was by the angels taken;
To Abr’ham’s bosom him they sped
Where he in rest and gladness did
Among God’s children waken;
His woes and pain were gone away
He dwelt beyond in endless day,
His joy no man might ever say.

6. The rich man also met his end,
With sighs and groans he had to wend
And from his riches sever.
His body was in earth confined,
And he to flames of hell consigned
And there must burn forever.
Alas, how soon the tables turned,
His pride, how soon to ashes burned,
Snuffed out, the stuff that he had earned!

7. And as amid the pain he lies,
He lifteth up his burning eyes,
And Abr’ham high perceiveth,
And in that lap doth Laz’rus see,
While he himself in agony
Of God’s right judgment grieveth;
And saith, “My father Abraham
Ah, woe is me, that here I am!
Have mercy on me, by the Lamb!”

8. “Send Lazarus with water pure
That he may share thy liquid cure
My parchèd tongue to moisten.
Yea, let him with his finger bring
One drop of dew to cool my sting,
For I am hotly chastened,
And tortured so in scourge and shame,
Around me lash such tongues of flame.
Have mercy, in God’s holy name!”

9. Said Abraham, “Thy days of weal,
And worldly joy which thou didst feel,
In mind and heart remember,
And Laz’rus, too, and all his pain;
Wherefore great joy is now his gain,
And thine, but fiery ember.
And such a chasm deep and wide
Doth also us and thee divide,
Such fate the Lord hath ratified.”

10. “I pray thee, then,” the rich man cried,
“O father Abraham, let ride
This Laz’rus to my father,
For there I have five brothers still,
Who live in pride and selfish will,
Whom not a grief doth bother:
So let them all be taught with care,
Lest they as well should hither fare,
And bear this pain that now I bear.

11. “They have the law before their eye;
The prophets, too, in rich supply.”
Let thy brothers heed them!”
“Oh, nay, O faithful Abraham,
But if one from death’s country came,
Then he to faith would lead them!
They would repent without alloy,
And long for that eternal joy,
Lest they should come to hell’s annoy!”

12. “If Moses they will not esteem
And prophets’ doctrines count a dream,
And rob themselves of gladness,
Far more would they but wag their head
At fearsome warnings of the dead,
And think it utter madness.”
Thus Abraham his answer made,
And there in hell the rich man stayed,
Enduring pains that never fade.

13. O Christian people, then, take heed,
And mark this age of per’lous need,
Of which Christ here is warning;
For if the world seek not God’s will,
With which He doth the Scriptures fill,
We must our fate be mourning.
So learn His Word both well and right,
And keep His statutes e’er in sight,
In Holy Scripture shining bright.

14. Let those who would be rich fear God
And help the poor to bear their load,
Extolling their Creator.
And let those who endure distress
In patience rue their sinfulness,
Confessing to their Maker.
Let each the other’s burden bear,
That God his soul from hell may spare
Upon the Last Day’s dawning glare.

15. Ye know that God hath only giv’n
The time this side of hell and heav’n,
Eternal wealth to gather.
So hasten now to get such wealth
While shines this day of grace and health
Bestowed by God the Father.
The mocker must forgo his prize,
Yea, he in gravest peril lies
Who Scripture’s teaching doth despise.

16. The rich man of whom Christ hath told
Was made to trade his wealth and gold
For judgment’s grievous sentence.
His riches could no help avail,
So let us heed this holy tale,
And live in true repentance.
All glory, praise and worship be
O mighty Jesus Christ, to Thee,
Who art our Savior verily!

17. God’s Word is not a jest or lie,
Amen let every Christian cry
In honor of Christ’s merit.
He hath shown us His gracious name
In one God, evermore the same,
The Father, Son, and Spirit;
So serve Him truly night and day!
O God, our Maker, Thee we pray,
Forever be our Help and Stay!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

GERMAN
1. Es was einmal ein reicher Mann,
mit Sammet und Seiden angethan,
er führet ein zärtlichs Leben,
sein Herz das strebt nach großer Ehr,
sein Leib ziert und mestet er,
ließ ihm das beste geben;
Gar köstlich was erbaut sein Haus,
er meinet, er wollt gar nimmer draus,
darum lebt er allzeit im Saus.

2. Sein Weib und Kind vorstund wohl,
die waren Freud und Wollust voll,
sie wüsten um kein Leiden;
sein Gesind desgleichen hät genug,
ein vollen Kropf ein jedes trug,
sie lebten nur in Freuden;
Ja, was nicht mocht inihren Mund,
das gaben sie den Haufen Hund,
also trieben sie es alle Stund.

3. Dargegen dort ein Bettler lag
fürs Reichen Thür mit großer Klag,
hieß Lazarus der arme,
sein Leib was voll Ais und Geschwehr,
groß Angst und Schmerzen duldet er,
sein wollt sich niemands erbarmen.
Er klagte hart sein große Noth,
und wenn nur wollte der ewig Gott,
wer sein Gewinn der zeitlich Tod.

4. Der arme Gottes Diener werd,
begehrt allein die Rindlein härt,
die Bröcklein bei den Füssen,
noch wollts ihm niemands bringen her,
die Hunde leckten ihm sein Geschwehr
und ließen sichs nicht verdrießen.
Der Hunger, Durst, und schwere Pein
lerent ihn hinauf gen Himmel schreien:
Mein Gott, sprach er, sich schier darein!

5. Nicht lang, entschlief der Bettler lind,
er ward gleich einem Gottes Kind
von heiligen Engeln genommen,
sie führeten ihn in Abrahams Schoß,
do het er Ruh und Freude groß
bei allen Gottes frommen;
Ein Ende het all sein Weh und Klag,
dort schwebt er in dem ewigen Tag,
die Freude niemands aussprechen mag.

6. Es starb do auch der reiche Mann,
mit Ach und Wehe mußt er davon,
nur eilend bald von hinnen;
er ward begraben in die Erd,
ihm ward das hellisch Feuer beschert,
da mußt er braten und brinnen.
O wehe, wie bald het sich vorkehrt
sein stolzer Pracht, den er auf Erd
mit großer Hoffart het verzehrt!

7. Und als er war in schwerer Pein,
da hub er auf die Augen sein,
sach Abraham von ferne
und Lazarum in seiner Schoß,
er aber leid jetzund Marter groß,
die Straf des gewaltigen HErren.
Er sprach: mein Vater Abraham,
wehe mir, das ich je daher kam!
erbarm dich mein, du Gottes Sohn!

8. Schick mit eim Wasser Lazarum,
das er zu mir eilends komm,
und frische mir da mein Zungen,
ja, nur ein Tropf vom Finger sein
erkühl mein Herz in dieser Pein
denn ich werde hart gedrungen,
darzu gepeinigt in der Flamm,
das Feuer schlecht über mich zusamm,
erbarm dich mein durch Gottes Nam.

9. Gedenk, mein Sohn, der guten Zeit,
die du gehabt hast und weltlich Freud,
sprach Abraham zum reichen.
Und Lazarus lied schwere Pein,
darum soll er in Freuden sein,
gepeinigt du der gleichen;
Darzu ein Grabe tief und breit
ist zwischen uns und euch bereit,
das jeder gewahrt von Gott sein bescheid.

10. So bitt ich, Vater Abraham,
schick Lazarum in meinen nahm
in meines Vaters Hause:
Fünf Brüder hab ich dorte noch,
die selben die sein gar frech, stolz und roch,
sie leben nur in Freuden.
Damit ihn angezeiget werd,
das sie nicht kommen auch daher,
samt mir gepeiniget werden sehr.

11. Sie haben Mosen allegleich,
dazu die Propheten all reich,
die selben laß sie hören.
O nein, du frommer Abraham,
wenn einer aus den Toten köm,
sie würden sich bekehren.
Sie würden haben Reu und Leid
und trachten nach der ewigen Freud,
daß sie nicht kommen in das Leid.

12. So sie den Moses schatzen gering,
Propheten Lehr für lose Ding,
sich selbs ihrer Freude berauben,
sie würden noch viel spotten mehr
eines Toten Menschen schrecklich sehr,
darzu gar nichts gläuben.
Also beschloß Abraham schnell;
der reiche bleib dort in der Hell,
da leidt er ewig Pein und Quäl.

13. Nu merket wahr, ihr Christenleut,
nehmt fleißig der gefährlichen Zeit,
die Christus uns hie bedeutet,
So diese Welt folget Gottes Rath,
so er die Schrfit gegeben hat,
sonst werdet ihr ausgereutet
Erfahret die Schrift gar recht und wohl,
was man thun und lassen soll;
das ist ganz heilig Schrift voll.

14. Wer reich will sein, stehe in Gottes Furcht,
thu guts den Armen auch dadurch,
wisse, daß er ist ein Schaffer
Wer nöthig ist, der hab Geduld,
gedenk, daß ers hab wohl verschuldt
um Gott, den ewigen Schöpfer.
Ein andern Bürd ein jeder trag,
damit er mag am größten Tag
entrinnen Gottes Straf und Plag.

15. Ihr wisset, daß Gott nach dieser Zeit
keim Menschen weiter Frist geit,
das ewige Reich zu erbeiten.
Derhalben versaumts nicht jetzund,
dieweil noch ist der Gnaden Stund,
das ewig Reich zu erwerben.
das Gespötte wird nicht gelten mehr,
verflucht, verdammt sei ewig der,
der da veracht die Gottes Lehr.

16. Der reiche, von dem hie Christus meldt,
was hätt er geben für Gold und Geld,
hätt er mögen ledig werden.
Es half ihn aber nichtes mehr
das sei uns allen ein starcke Lehr,
das wir Buß thun auf Erden.
Lob, Ehr und Preis zu dieser Frist
sei dir, du starker Jesu Christ,
daß du ein rechter Helfer bist.

17. Amen, schreit aller gläubigen Herz,
denn Gottes Wort ist nicht ein Scherz,
die Wohlthat Christi zu erkennen.
Er hat sein Gesellschaft schon beweist
mit Vater, Sohn, und heilgem Geist,
ein Gott, drei Namen genennet.
Dem dienet fleißig Tag und Nacht!
O Gott, der du uns hast erschafft,
halt uns in Hut, sei drauf bedacht! Amen.

01 May 2010

The "Klette" Hymns and the "Klette" quote

"Ich will an meinem Herrn Christus kleben[d] bleiben wie die Klette am Kleide."
"I want to cling to my Lord Christ like a burr to a cloth."


There are two well known hymns in Lutheran hymnody whose words have been inspired by the infamous "Klette" quote, or "Burr" quote. Mor Meurer, in the biography, Katharina Luther geborne von Bora…, notes (pp. 117f.),
This childlike expression of faith seems to have been the inspiration for Christian Keimann, rector of the gymnasium of Zittau, in his hymn "Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, weil er sich für mich gegeben, so erfordert meine Pflicht klettenweis an ihm zu kleben." But the expression is found even more literally in the famous burial hymn of Simon Graf, pastor of Schandau (d. 1659), in the hymn "Christus der ist mein Leben," of which the seventh stanza says, "Und laß mich an dir kleben, wie eine Klett am Kleid."
The quote has been popularly ascribed to Katharina Luther, née von Bora, as her deathbed expression of faith [Glaubenswort]. However, in older sources, we find a competitor. Sometimes it is Katharina Luther, sometimes, however, it is instead ascribed to Duchess Katharina of Saxony (and mother of Elector August of Saxony), as her deathbed confession.

Now, the meaning of and the faith exemplified by the quote itself are not in the least diminished by its uncertain origin; and indeed, it is in any case a Katharina to whom we must ascribe it. Nor can we hesitate to affirm that the faith possessed by both Katharinas was as humble and certain as is sensed by these words. The question is perplexing, however.

There are varied opinions in the 19th century. Albrecht Thoma, author of Katharina von Bora: geschichtliches Lebensbild, comes down on the side of Katharina von Bora, but notes (p. 311f.) that the hymn "Christus der ist mein Leben" may have been written by a certain Anna von Stolberg (1600), and was certainly not written by Simon Graf as Meurer believed. E.E. Koch, in his Geschichte der Kirchenlieder, IV, 667, claims that it was Katharina of Saxony (d. 1561) who said it. Konrad Reicherd (1828) ascribes it to the Elector-Mother Katharina. The paper Neue Mittheilungen aus dem Gebiete historisch antiquarischer Forschungen (1850), vol. 8, p. 78 seems to connect it to Georg Major's description of Mrs. Luther's death, but when inspected closely, inserts the ascription, without evidence, immediately following the quotation of Major. Zimmermann and Zimmermann, in Allgemeine Kirchenzeitung, vol. 14, come down on the side of the Duchess: "Katharina, the widowed duchess of Saxony and mother of Elector August...died in Torgau, saying this expression of faith on her deathbed…[which] afterwards became well-known in court and country."

In a rare modern example of support for the Duchess, The Archive for Reformation History (2005) says that Siegfried Bräuer's Beitrag was dedicated to the Duchess Katharina of Saxony, wife of Henry the Good, mother of dukes Maurice and August, and referred to by contemporaries as "Devils-head" and "Burr-on-Christ" [Teufelsköpfin und Klette an Christus].

An older example of an ascription is found in Menandri Allerbewährteste Mittel wider die Einbildung eines schnellen und unverhofften Todtes, 1724 (pp. 240f): "Regarding August, elector of Saxony, Selnecker reports that in the year 1561, when his Lady Mother died in Torgau, she spoke these words before her death: 'I want to remain clinging to my Lord Christ like a burr to a frock." Accordingly, when these ardent words had been reported to the Elector, he told the good, old Dr. John Neeven and myself who was with him at the time (wrote the blessed Dr. Weller): "May God so help me at my final end. I too, by His grace, will remain clinging to Him, and confess my Lord Christ; if He would only let me be a blister on His foot in eternal life, then I am content." But the oldest example that I have myself is from Herberger's Magnalia Dei (1600–1610) where he gives this ascription in at least three different places to the Duchess Katharina of Saxony, and knows of no quotes by Katharina Luther to speak of. He furthermore includes the quote by the Elector August, the relation of which to the quote in question would seem to put the nail in the coffin of a Katharina Luther ascription, unless we can find an earlier evidence that disproves or invalidates Selneccer's report.

Finally, for enjoyment, here are the hymns that relate to our quote. It is, I suppose, supremely ironic (or unfortunate) that we both references to the Klette-quote in English Lutheranism have been rather obscured:

(1) MEINEN JESUM LASS ICH NICHT, WEIL ER SICH
This hymn (see TLH#365) was written by the rector Keimann (or Keymann) as said above and included in Walther's hymnal as hymn #255. Over the years, the relationship to the original Klette-quote was forgotten, and the "burr" was thrown out apparently to changing modern sensibilities. I restore it here in my composite translation. Also note the restored acronym clearly referring to the Duchess' son August in the last stanza:

1. JESUS I will never leave,
Who for me Himself hath given;
Like a burr to Him I’ll cleave
Nor from Him be ever driven.
Life from Him doth light receive,
Jesus I will never leave.

2. Jesus I will never leave
While on earth I am abiding;
That I have to Him I give,
All my cares in Him confiding.
Naught shall me of Him bereave,
Jesus I will never leave.

3. Though my sight shall pass away,
Hearing, taste, and feeling fail me;
Though my life’s last light of day
Shall o’ertake and sore assail me;
When His summons I receive,
Jesus I will never leave.

4. Nor will I my Jesus leave
When at last I shall come thither
Where His saints He will receive,
Where in bliss they live together.
Endless joy to me He’ll give,
Jesus I will never leave.

5. Not for earth’s vain joys I crave
Nor, without him, heaven’s pleasure;
Jesus, who my soul did save,
Evermore shall be my Treasure.
He redemption did achieve,
Jesus I will never leave.

6. Jesus I will not let go,
G
ladly by His side I’m going:
Ever Christ will lead me so
O
e’r His streams, true life bestowing.
So with me is blest who says:
“I’ll not leave Him all my days.”*

*J.G.E.O.S.: i.e. “Johann Georg, Elector of Saxony” says: “Jesus I will never leave.”

GERMAN

1. Meinen Jesum lass' ich nicht!
Weil er sich
für mich gegeben,
So erfordert meine Pflicht,
Klettenweis an ihm zu kleben, [neu: In ihm und für ihn zu leben]
Er ist meines Lebens Licht,
Meinen Jesum lass' ich nicht!

2. Jesum lass' ich ewig nicht,
Weil ich soll auf Erden leben;
Ihm Hab ich voll Zuversicht,
Was ich bin und Hab, ergeben.
Herz und Mund mit Freuden spricht:
Meinen Jesum lass'ich nicht!

3. Laß vergehen das Gesicht,
Hören, Fühlen mir entweichen,
Laß das letzte Tageslicht
Mich auf dieser Welt erreichen,
Wann der Lebensfaden bricht, —
Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht!

4. Ich werd ihn auch lassen nicht,
Wann ich nun dahin gelanget,
Wo vor seinem Angesicht
Frommer Christen Glaube pranget.
Ewig glänzt mir dort sein Licht;
Meinen Jesum lass' ich nicht!

5. Nicht nach Welt, nach Himmel nicht
Meine Seel in mir sich sehnet;
Jesum wünscht sie und sein Licht,
Der mich hat mit Gott versöhnet,
Der mich frei macht vom Gericht;
Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht!

6. Jesum lass' ich nicht von mir,
Geh ihm ewig an der Seiten;
Christus wird mich für und für
Zu dem Lebensbrunnen leiten.
Selig, wer mit mir so spricht:
Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht!


(2) CHRISTUS DER IST MEIN LEBEN
This hymn (by Anon., 1608), has been ascribed to Simon Graf and to Anna von Stolberg, as said above. Winkworth's first line ("My life is hid in Jesus") obscures the biblical reference (it is the German version of Phil. 1:21, "Christ is my life, death is my gain"), but the version otherwise is generally not bad; again, excepting the exclusion of the "burr" reference. We have it in a slightly altered form in TLH #597. I have altered it further, changing Winkworth's word "merits" in stanza 3 to "five wounds," and the first two lines of stanza 7 in accordance with the original.

1. For me to live is Jesus.
To die is gain for me;
Then, whensoe'er He pleases,
I meet death willingly.

2. For Christ, my Lord and Brother,
I leave this world so dim
And gladly seek that other,
Where I shall be with Him.

3. My woes are nearly over,
Though long and dark the road;
My sin His five wounds cover,
And I have peace with God.

4. Lord, when my powers are failing,
My breath comes heavily,
And words are unavailing.
Oh, hear my sighs to Thee!

5. When mind and thought, 0 Savior,
Are flickering like a light
That to and fro doth waver
Ere 'tis extinguished quite,

6. In that last hour, oh, grant me
To slumber soft and still,
No doubts to vex or haunt me,
Safe anchored on Thy will;

7. And, like a burr still cleaving
To Thee through agony,
To fall asleep believing
And wake in heaven with Thee.

8. Amen! Thou, Christ, my Savior.
Wilt grant this unto me.
Thy Spirit lead me ever
That I fare happily.

GERMAN
1. Christus, der ist mein Leben, 

Sterben ist mein Gewinn; 

Dem thu ich mich ergeben,

Mit Fried fahr ich dahin.

2. Mit Freud fahr ich von bannen 

Zu Christ, dem Bruder mein,
Auf daß ich zu ihm komme

Und ewig bei ihm sei.

3. Ich hab nun überwunden 

Kreuz, Leiden, Angst und Noth;

Durch sein' heilig' fünf Wunden 

Bin ich versöhnt mit Gott.

4. Wenn meine Kräfte brechen, 

Mein Adem geht schwer aus.
Und kann kein Wort mehr sprechen, 

Herr, nimm mein Seufzen auf.

5. Wenn mein Herz und Gedanken 

Zergehn als wie ein Licht,
Das hin und her thut wanken, 

Wenn ihm die Flamm gebricht,

6. Alsdann fein, sanft und stille

Herr, laß mich schlafen ein.
Nach deinem Ruth und Willen, 

Wenn kömmt mein Stündelein;

7. Und laß mich an dir kleben, 

Wie ein' Klette am Kleid
Und ewig bei dir leben
In himmlischer Wonn und Freud.